Continuing our series on Leaders & Influencers, we talk with Nick Lombardino, co-founder of the recently launched Atlas Providers, a free digital marketplace that connects emerging companies with area service providers.
Tell us about Atlas Providers and how it’s changed since its inception.
Atlas Providers is a network of local service providers, across a variety of industries, that focus on servicing emerging companies. Through our website we’ve created a free, one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to easily search, review, and connect with area service providers in a quick and transparent manner.
The first iteration of Atlas Providers was much different than it is today. Originally, we were trying to find a way for service providers to collaboratively work together for the benefit of an emerging company. Over time, we were able to zero in on a major issue that startups face: selecting the right service provider. Reason being, when entrepreneurs identify that they need to engage a service provider, they usually need that service yesterday. Moreover, they don’t have the time and energy to properly research, qualify, and shop service providers. We take that burden away.
What role has Madison played in Atlas Providers’ development?
Since the beginning, we have tried to follow the “build, measure, learn” Lean Startup Methodology. Over the past year, we have relied heavily on feedback from Madison’s startup community. Through focus groups, interviews and brain-storming sessions, we’ve been able to make continuous adjustments. We owe a great deal to entrepreneurial leaders like Forrest Woolworth, Tom Still, Zach Brandon, Brian Jensen, and Rachel Neill for their feedback and support.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I am a fairly risk-averse person. What I’ve found, and what I’m hoping others will realize, is that entrepreneurship doesn’t always mean “jump off a cliff and build the plane on the way down.” If you have a business concept, or even just an idea, test it and engage the community. There’s very low risk in testing an idea. Through that process, you’ll learn more about its viability, and whether or not you’re passionate about scaling.
Dr. Amy Gannon recently wrote a great article called, “Hello Aspiring Entrepreneurs…Stop talking about it and just take the first step!” She does a fantastic job laying out the first steps an aspiring entrepreneur can take to mitigate risk while progressing an idea forward.
What book, blog, or podcast do you think every aspiring entrepreneur should read/listen to?
In addition to Dr. Gannon’s article, I would encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to check out two podcasts with a local flare: “Driven to Better” by Justin Sisley and “Growth Bomb” by Jenna Atkinson. The content is relatable, easy to digest and helps promote the “givers gain” mentality.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses like Atlas Providers succeed.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of Madison’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, investors, start-up gurus, and community problem-solvers. Each was asked for a favorite book recommendation for would-be or experienced entrepreneurs. Here’s a recap of those book recommendations from our 2015 Leaders & Influencers. We hope you enjoy!
Co-founder of Madison’s Capital Entrepreneurs group and COO of mobile gaming company PerBlue, Forrest Woolworth is a “champion of all things entrepreneurial.” He chatted with us about what’s happening on Madison’s entrepreneurial scene, changes he’d like to see, and what’s most rewarding in his work.
Tell us about Capital Entrepreneurs.
Capital Entrepreneurs is a community group for Madison area entrepreneurs. We started the group back in 2009 to bring together the then fledgling entrepreneurial community. By connecting those entrepreneurs and forming the “social fabric” to tie them together, Capital Entrepreneurs established much of the foundation for the now burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem that has emerged over the last few years in Madison.
What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?
The concept of “ownership” is extremely important. It’s a principal we use extensively at PerBlue, and relates to an individual taking initiative and responsibility to drive a specific task to completion or solve a specific problem. In order to innovate it’s critical to not only identify a problem (or opportunity), but to actually do something about it. If more people take that initiative to act on something they can improve (big or small), we’ll see more entrepreneurs and more innovation. This applies to tackling problems of all facets of society—not just technical or business challenges, but extending to social issues as well.
What book do you think every aspiring entrepreneur should read and why?
First, Break all the Rules. It’s a great book on building a team, which is critical for any startup. We base many of our management practices at PerBlue on principals from this book and have found them very effective.
What are you most excited about at Capital Entrepreneurs at the moment?
StartingBlock Madison is going to really take Madison’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level. We’ve been working for over two years to bring this project to reality, and it’s now finally nearing fruition. StartingBlock will be a 50,000 sq. ft. entrepreneurial hub downtown that will house the Sector67 hackerspace, gener8tor startup accelerator, as well as provide coworking and workspaces for startups of all sizes. Construction on the project is anticipated to start later this year.
What do you find most interesting and rewarding in your position as COO at PerBlue?
Getting to build things. Whether that’s helping build a team, a product, or even an entire entrepreneurial community, I love being able to build new things. Seeing those things go on to achieve success and continue to grow is very rewarding.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help start-ups like PerBlue succeed.